WARNING: alludes to major character death. Also includes one little swear word, and depictions of sex.

They don't speak to each other. Ever.

Most times, it begins with a simple knock on the door. She'll let him in, and he'll push past her without a word, untying the scarf from around his neck and slipping out of his long, dark coat. He usually simply drops the items of clothing onto the table and strides over to the sink, filling a glass with water and drinking it down, usually all in one gulp. She usually just stands there, staring at him silently, wondering in her head (every time) why on earth she still does this, why she lets him treat her this way. But she knows that she treats him just the same, sometimes, almost like a pincushion for all those emotions and feelings and terrible, terrible pain she still feels, her nails on his back like needles she needs to put away.

He puts the glass away then, and leaves the kitchen without even looking at her, undoing the buttons on his shirt as he goes. She follows him, mimicking his actions, rolling her shoulders out of her blouse gracelessly, without any pretense at seduction on her mind.

When she gets to the bedroom, he's already sitting on the edge of the mattress, shrugging out of his shirt completely now. He takes off his shoes one by one as she takes out her earrings, and she steps behind him to get into bed, stepping out of her jeans as she goes. She watches him (out of habit, really) as he places each sock into their respective shoe, and then he gets up again to slide his trousers off, clad now only in his pants. His facial expression doesn't change (and it's not like she expects it to) as he rounds the bed to the side opposite hers, pulling the sheets down and getting in beside her.

He always kisses her first. That's the unspoken rule between them, some sort of strange requirement that they both silently agreed to, that the control was (and is) ceded to him, the primary orchestrator of these events. Slowly at first, and nearly hesitant, he places his lips against hers, almost as if he's trying to remember how to do this, how to be this close to another human being once again. She never takes over, always letting him set the pace, and soon enough he's kissing her hungrily, passionately, like a man stepping out into cold morning air, gasping for more on reflex alone.

Sometimes she watches him kiss his way down her neck, across her collarbone – his eyes are always closed, those brilliant blue irises hidden from her view. She'll be honest, though – he doesn't need his sight to do what he does to her, his lips and teeth brushing and pulling and tugging her skin, making her moan with the most basic of pleasures. Her fingers knead through his hair, buried into his soft curls, as she kisses softly the edge of his forehead, the sides of his temples, as he makes his way up and down her body.

Eventually, he pause for a moment to slide off his trousers, and she does the same with her knickers, both of them discarding them to the side of the bed, neither of them looking at each other while they do it. And then he's back hovering over her, his knee nudging her legs open, as he nips at softness of her breasts, his mouth warm and tender on her skin.

Once, just once, she almost breathed his name then, but she caught herself in time, narrowly avoiding breaking the most important of their unspoken rules.

When he reaches between her legs, she gasps – the feeling of his hands on her warmth never ceases to send a shiver down her spine, as his fingers trail along the edges of her sex, pleasure coursing through her extremities and into the very tips of her toes.[ Afterwards, alone in her bed, she always remarks to herself how good he is at all of this, how well-educated he is in the way of the female form, for someone that she suspects (knows) doesn't really like girls at all...] His fingers work their way in and out of her, and she can feel the sweat on her brow and the heat in her cheeks as tightens the grip of her thighs around his hand, spurring him on.

Without warning, he retracts his hand, and, despite herself, she gives a little huff of disappointment. [One time she swears he chuckled, just a bit, just for a moment]. She is, however, instantly mollified when he replaces them with his cock, thrusting inside her quickly and without pause. She wraps her legs around his waist, her heels pressing into the back of his knees, as he pushes and pulls against her, his head level with her collarbone. He never kisses her then, not even once, his eyes squeezed shut as he concentrates on the rhythm he is setting with his hips, breathing hard now. Her hands rest on his forearms as he finishes, still silent as always, his body collapsing against hers in complete and utter fatigue.

He gets dressed again in the reverse order of which he undresses: shirt first, then trousers, and finally shoes. She pulls the covers over her and watches wordlessly, the sheet tucked under her chin, her body still warm and tingling from his touch.

He stands up to leave (and god sometimes she is still struck by how much taller he is [was] than John, so much unlike her husband). He nods just once in her direction, and leaves the room, the sound of the door opening and closing following a few moments later.

She lies in bed a long time afterwards, pondering and processing everything, her mind still whirring though her body is telling her to sleep. She used to wonder what he got out of this... little arrangement, but she's fairly sure that she knows now [she does]. It's the same thing she gets out of it, the same feeling that she craves and longs for, the feeling that she would and will do anything to reclaim.

The feeling of being close to John Watson once more.

One night, one cold and rainy November night, she breaks the cardinal rule as he's putting on his shoes, tying up his laces with those long, elegant fingers. She can't help herself – it's been weeks and months now that this has been going on, and she has to know.

"Why do you do this?" she asks softly, though in the silence between them it sounds almost a shout.

He stops in mid-motion, half-bent over his own knee, his fingers threaded through the laces. "You know why, Mary."

And she does know. But she wants to hear him say it. She wants to hear him say: 'I come here to be with you because I can't be with him, because my friend is dead and gone and you are the last piece I have of him, someone who loved him and he loved in return. I touch you and I kiss you and I fuck you because I never could have done those things with him. I put my hands where his hands were and his mouth where his mouth was and it makes me feel close to him again.'

But he won't ever say that. So she watches him tie his shoes [as she always does] and says nothing as he steps out the door, disappearing back out into the night, leaving her alone.

Before she falls asleep, she buries her head into the pillow and pretends it's John she can smell, pretends that it's his sweat on the sheets she can still feel, and tries to forget all about Sherlock Holmes.